Steering Column: Airbag Clockspring
A clockspring contains a flexible coil that electrically connects components in the steering wheel to the steering column and the rest of the vehicle's electrical system. The ribbon or coil inside the clockspring winds and unwinds while turning the wheel.
The clockspring coil can wear in time or become damaged if the steering column universal joint is disconnected and the steering wheel spins freely, stretching the spring beyond its limits. The coil inside the clockspring can break, resulting in an open circuit and an illuminated airbag light.
Replacing the clockspring will restore the circuit, and an OBD II ABS/SRS scanner may be needed to clear the code and the warning light.
Hold the Steering Wheel
Holding the steering wheel with a steering wheel brace or even the seat belt keeps the wheel from spinning and breaking this fragile connection. It can only spin so far before it breaks. An open in the circuit results in an amber airbag light. Before replacing a column, gearbox, rack, or coupling, check the manufacturer's service manual for special instructions, TSBs, and specifications.